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What to Look for When Buying Brake Pads

All About Brake Pads and the Braking System

In order to find quality brake pads, the buyer should not only know that to look for in a pad itself but also how brake pads work. Having at least a basic understanding makes it easier to figure out when to replace the brake pads and when some other problem with the braking system might be present. Knowing the difference between ceramic and more common metallic brake pads also makes understanding product claims simpler.

Brake pads are only one part of a braking system. Because brake problems could involve any of these components, it is important to understand at least the basics of the entire braking system. Cars can have either disc brakes or drum brakes, and many cars use both types. In either case, what stops the rotation of the wheel is friction between the brake pad and a surface that spins with the wheel. Between the brakes and the brake pedal is both a lever that provides mechanical advantage and a hydraulic system. Hydraulic systems work on the principle that fluids cannot be compressed; squeeze one end of a fluid filled tube, and the other end bulges out, even if the tube curves and twists or even divides. In this way, the pressure that begins with the brake pedal can be directed to the brakes of all four wheels.

How to Tell if Brake Pads Need to Be Replaced

Brake pads are designed to squeal when they wear down beyond a certain point. While rust can cause occasional squealing, a squeal that persists is a clear sign that the pads need to be replaced. Other strange noises, fading brake effectiveness, vibration on braking that is not the activation of anti-lock brakes, and a tendency for the car to pull to one side while braking are all signs of brake problems that should be promptly addressed, though these signs are often not related to brake pads specifically.

What to Look for in Brake Pads

Brake pads vary by both price and quality. Not surprisingly, the lower cost pads tend to be lower quality, though it is possible to find good deals on quality pads. Because low-quality brake pads wear out faster, the low purchase price may not turn out to be a good deal, since the brake pads need to be replaced much more often. Plus, pads with the rough, steel wool-like texture of some low-cost types wear out the brake rotors and brake rotors are very expensive to replace. Both for safety and for overall cost effectiveness, drivers should buy the highest quality that current finances allow.

High quality brake pads are quiet and do not create much dust. Buyers should look for pads that can last over a hundred and sixty thousand kilometres before needing to be replaced. Also, they should make sure the pads work well in all weather conditions.

Installing New Brake Pads

Changing brake pads is one of the tasks that can be done at home, this saving the driver a lot of money. Instructions on changing brake pads are available online, but this is not the sort of task that anyone should do alone for the first time. While changing pads is not difficult, if something does go wrong the brakes could fail without warning and someone could die. Anyone wondering whether he or she can change brake pads should either get help from someone who is more knowledgeable and confident, or hire a mechanic.

Bedding in Brake Pads

Bedding in brake pads means essentially breaking in the pad so that it functions properly. Until this is done, the pads may not grip properly, even though nothing needs to be replaced. To bed in brake pads, drivers should use the brakes gently at low speeds several times, gradually working up to highway speeds. A period of ordinary but careful driving follows while the pads finish curing. Detailed instructions on braking in are available online. The main point is that this is one situation where the pads do not work properly but do not need to be replaced.